Martin Deer has a message for the Hollywood movie studios….
I have an important message for all of the big studios out there: we’re beginning to hate you. Seriously.
We love you for putting out great films that we enjoy but recently you’re capitalist nature has become rampant and ever so apparent So what are we talking about here? 3D. Nobody likes it, trust me. And I know, it doesn’t matter to you if we like you or 3D because you’re all about the money and if we keep going to see films then it doesn’t matter if we walk out saying, ‘god damn it I hate 3D’ – as long as it makes money you’ll be swan diving in to a pile of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck screaming ‘suckerrrrrrs’. But something is happening right now, and maybe it’s just me, but I see a change coming. I see it on Twitter and on blogs as the many film fans I follow cry out in anger as each of them discovers that they are being forced to see more and more films in 3D, and they don’t want to. But as I’ve learned, you’re playing us for fools, and we don’t like that either.
It was not so long ago that even if you didn’t like watching films in 3D – mostly everybody – you had a choice. Cinemas would have both 2D and 3D showings, and you could decide which one you wanted to see. Now however, it’s different. Now, we’re being forced to see a film in 3D, even when it wasn’t actually shot in 3D. If a film was shot in 3D I can understand there being no 2D showings; I don’t like it, but I understand to a degree. But when a film isn’t shot in 3D and you are forcing us to see it only in that format, that causes a big problem.
The next few weeks sees two major Hollywood releases in Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. Neither shot in 3D. Both however, mostly being released in 3D. Both of these films are currently on ticket pre-order on all of the major cinema chain websites, but they are all for 3D screenings. Most film fans, including myself, have assumed that this is because there will be no 2D showings at all. This not the case however, as a quick call to Cineworld, Empire and Odeon reveals that there will be 2D showings of these films, but they won’t be announced/go on sale until much closer to the release date. Very sneaky. Sneaky because fans out there right now are buying tickets for the 3D showings so that they get to see the film as quickly as possible, completely unaware that 2D screenings will be available. I have done it myself with Iron Man 3 – I bought my tickets a few weeks ago for me and my brother assuming that 3D was all there was going to be. And I am pretty annoyed about it. Studios are also pulling 2D screenings from cinemas long before 3D ones, so that if you’re late to the party or take in multiple viewings, eventually 3D is your only option. The three chains I spoke to all confirmed that this is at the behest of the studios.
As I look around my Twitter and blogs, I see resentment, and I see many proclaiming, ‘if I can only see it in 3D, I won’t go’ (and even though there eventually will be 2D showings, how many are going to check to see if it that is the case having already checked the pre-booking and seen only 3D?). That’s bad for studios and that’s bad for films and filmmakers. I did this myself; last year I refused to go and see Dredd as that was purely a 3D release. 3D ruins the film experience, I don’t care what James Cameron says. 3D destroys the whole point of films: being transported to a world that is not your own – because every 20 minutes you’re taking those glasses off and readjusting your eyes, taking you out of the film. For a film such as say Oz the Great and Powerful or Wreck-It Ralph, it isn’t so much a problem. But for a film that requires a bit more investment and attention, it starts to interfere with your enjoyment and ability to focus.
I am, as a huge cinema-goer and all round film fan, sick of the way we 3D is being forced on us. Directors, cinematographers and digital effects people are going to great lengths to make the best film they can, and then studios are ruining it with 3D post conversions which end up darker and with blurred backgrounds. Even Toy Story 3, shot in Real 3D, had this problem. The background images that look spectacular on Blu-ray in standard 2D, which someone had spent weeks/months on making the scene the best that it could be with incredible detail, looked blurred because of the extra dimension. 3D is a cancer on film. Man of Steel, a film I am very eager to see as a huge Superman fan, is getting a 3D post conversion, which means all that great cinematography in the trailers will be wasted when it all looks blurred and darkened thanks to 3D. The format does nothing to enhance the experience and everything to ruin it – the best 3D reviews are along the lines of, ‘3D didn’t add anything, but it didn’t bother me too much either’.
You have to feel for the filmmakers immensely. Take Star Trek Into Darkness. The film was shot partially in IMAX, not 3D, and yet the true IMAX screens throughout the UK (London BFI, Odeon Manchester, Bradford Media Museum and Glasgow Science Centre) which are made to show off this wonderful, actually more engaging format will be showing the film in 3D, so the IMAX effects will essentially be wasted. Extra time and money spent on filming on IMAX cameras simply rendered pointless by the studios desire to earn a little extra thanks to this horrendous gimmick.
How long can this go on? Not to sound like an old grump, but cinemas can be annoying places at times, with people on mobile phones and the sound of popcorn and sweet bags rustling away as someone chews away for the full length of the film whilst having a conversation. I realise cinemas make their money on confectionery, so I don’t begrudge this – it’s the people in the audience who have no respect for their fellow viewers. But cinemas aren’t helping this situation though, they’re contributing to making it worse. The latest 4D gimmick with moving chairs and Odeon cinemas absurd interactive mobile service, which by using your mobile phone IN THE CINEMA allows you access to money-off offers within the site, make cinemas seem as though they’re aiming for some kind of theme park status and give people the impression it’s fine to talk and use your phone. Odeon do of course suggest you turn your phone off when the film starts, but once you start creating an environment where your mobile is welcome, you ‘re becoming part of the problem and exacerbating it, when you should be trying to stop it.
But I digress – we’re talking about 3D here and how studios are forcing the format on us. How long can it last? How long can it last before we start talking with our wallets? I’m not suggesting anyone boycott a film, I feel guilty for having boycotted Dredd last year as it didn’t perform at the box office and now won’t be getting a very much deserved sequel. But I refused to see it in 3D, and so that was my stand, my choice, and yours is yours alone to make. But what I do suggest is this: having discovered how things are now working, with 3D tickets going on sale long before 2D screenings are announced, let’s wait. Let’s wait until those 2D screenings are available. In reality it is only us hardcore fans of particular franchises who are booking tickets a month in advance, so what if we all just waited? What if the studios began to see that no pre-bookings for 3D shows were being made, and instead that when the 2D screenings are released that tickets for those are selling out faster than Scotty can beam you up, would that not help begin to buck the 3D onslaught? What we can also do is boycott re-releases – Finding Nemo and Jurassic Park etc. As someone who would snap your hand off quicker than old Rex himself at the chance to see Jurassic Park in the cinema again, a 3D re-release is where we can actually say, ‘no, I’m not buying this’, and there’s no negative effect on the filmmakers or the franchise since it’s just a re-release.
I know we’re all eager to see our favourite films and I begrudge no one wanting to get their hands on a ticket for any showing as quickly as possible, I will likely be doing the same for Man of Steel come June. But for Star Trek Into Darkness, or any other major release this year I will be waiting for those 2D showings to become available before I purchase. I’m just one man, but a revolution has to start somewhere. Stop forcing 3D on us, Hollywood, we’re getting really sick of it. And eventually that’s going to be bad for you.